Apple’s cunning plan: hook you in for life

My six-year-old has an Apple ID. This wasn’t planned. For a long time, though, she had her own iPod touch, and an old iPad Air became ‘hers’, given that 1) I wasn’t using it, and 2) it gradually became so full of children’s apps and games that it made sense to delete everything else.

As she increasingly got to grips with these devices, I’d find my Photo Stream being randomly invaded by colorful cartoons and strange selfies featuring an inquisitive little face — the results of my youngling grappling with technology and discovering camera-based treats in the apps she was using.

But she’s a bit older now. She’s getting an interest in music (Wire! Yo La Tengo! Kraftwerk!), is doing ‘computer things’ at school, and needs the beginnings of her own virtual space — hence the Apple ID. And, of course, this is how they get you — and by ‘they’, I mean Apple. I upgraded my Apple Music account to a family plan in part so mini G could start exploring and defining her own tastes, without sharing a library based entirely around mine.

Apple’s now fully extended this line of thinking to hardware by way of Family Setup, a new feature for Apple Watch. Only instead of bestowing a loved one with an Apple ID or a free (to them) Apple Music subscription, you’re setting them up with an entire Apple Watch.

Naturally, you can’t go for the cheapest in the current line-up: you’ll need an Apple Watch Series 4 or later — and one with cellular capabilities, which means more expense and a data plan. Apple notes Family Setup is ideal for children, because they can have a watch tied to your phone, on which you can set restrictions and keep an eye on their whereabouts via the magic of GPS.

Me, I’m thinking mini G can make do with her other devices for now. Our family’s deep within the Apple ecosystem, but she came to iPod touch and iPad through her own interests. If she wants an Apple Watch, that’ll be on her own terms — not mine and certainly not due to a nudge from Apple, no matter how tempting.